Clean Diesel Sales Continue to Climb in U.S.

According to Autoblog.com, sales of environmentally friendly diesel vehicles, or clean diesels, are up by 27.5%, compared to sales numbers at the same point last year. The article cited a recent study by HybridCars.com and the automotive research and analysis company Baum and Associates. The study revealed that Americans have purchased 61,214 clean diesel-powered vehicles during the first six months of the year. Perhaps even more surprising is the fact that this figure does not include the sale of heavy-duty diesel pickup trucks. But while the sales numbers are significant, they still do not match the number of hybrids being sold in the U.S. According to the study, hybrid sales are up by 63.5% over 2011's numbers, and beyond the sale of green vehicles, overall automobile sales increased by 14.9% as well.

For clean diesels, 2012 year marks the second straight year where sales have increased by double-digits. According to Allen Schaeffer, the executive director of the Diesel Technology Forum, clean diesel auto sales increased in 22 of the past 23 months, with double-digit increases in 20 of those months. Schaeffer also stated that diesel auto sales had increased by more than 30% during 12 of those months. While the number is still lagging behind the 50% increased sales rate in Europe, it does show that Americans are taking greater interest in energy-efficient modes of transportation.

Certain manufacturers saw particularly strong results in the U.S., especially among German manufacturers Audi, Mercedes-Benz, and Volkswagen. Sales of diesel version of the Audi A3 (TDI) accounted for 64.8% of overall sales for the model in the month of June, while TDI variants of the Q7 sport utility vehicle made up 37.1% of overall model sales during the same month. At Mercedes, all diesel-powered model (BlueTEC) sales were up by 50% in the month of June when compared to last year's numbers. Meanwhile, Volkswagen posted strong number for its Passat TDI clean diesel, which accounted for 21% of the midsize sedan's June sales.

Strong diesel sales are likely to stick around as well. The Diesel Technology Forum cited a recent report from Pike Research study, which showed that rising fuel prices and stronger fuel economy regulations will stimulate increasing demand for clean diesel vehicles around the world. Pike forecasts that sales of these clean diesel vehicles will increase from 9.1 million in 2012 to 12.1 million annually by 2018. This will put the percentage of clean diesel, light-duty vehicle sales at 12.4% by the end of the same period. Pike also predicts sales to be particularly strong in North America, increasing by approximately 646,000 units by 2018. Increases should be seen fairly immediately as well, with 15 new clean diesel models designated for sale in the U.S. over the next two years.

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